Water Stone is probably my second favorite OTR (off the rack) shop in Beijing after Altea, the Italian tie and apparel brand with a branch in the basement of Oriental Plaza. It is a refuge for male connoisseurs of avant-garde fashion. The focus is on high-end Japanese cult brands, with products and fabrics produced in Japan; hardly anything here appears on other shelves in China. Attachment, founded by former Issey Miyake designer, Kazuyuki Kumagai stands out, with its emphasis on craftsmanship and innovative but attractive fabrics. The silk linen blend three-piece suit (12,250 – though there was a 50% sale as of this writing) is a perfect modern substitute for seersucker, and is differentiated from mainstream designers like Hugo Boss and Versace through superior, non-fused, construction. The super long sleeve jerseys, an iconic Kumagai piece, will please fashion nerds. Slow Gun by Kobayashi Manabu offers garments in English fabrics produced for Saville Row tailors. Expect no dearth of silk linings and clever details on pieces from these designers as well as Factotum, by Koji Udo. Reeboks designed for the Japanese market are the only products made in China. Otherwise, Made in USA has a strong showing with vintage Levi’s (950), Wool Naval Peacoats (1750), and other rare items from the 1960s and 70s. Water Stone offers a selection on par with what can be found only in top fashion cities like Milan and Tokyo, though the slim, small, sizes and price level might make it more a favorite among local artists and rich kids than Western businessmen.
Water Stone, Daily 10:30-10:30. B008, “Nali Patio” No. 81, Sanlitun North Street, Chaoyang District (5208 6055)
(The edited version of this piece is in the current The Beijinger along with photos)
Though I tend to dislike big trends, sometimes I can’t help but noticing them when their omnipresence starts to make it seem like I will never find anyone interesting to photograph. So, I have decided to do something a little different with a series on the most tedious trends of the last few weeks. To start, at this Olympics, everyone was wearing Kappa or something related to Italy.
I have a friend who is a designer at Kappa and their two woman logo is cool, but I’m against any type of free advertising and brand that dominates the landscape without a subtle touch.
Kappa must be the most successful company when it comes to plastering China with its logo.
Sure, for a sportswear brand it does seem more provocative than Adidas or Nike.
I hope the Italian government is subsidizing this. Italian brands can probably get away with displays like this more than American ones.
Apparently Chinese audiences were comparatively supportive of Italian athletes. It’s not surprising.
Even names of towns make it onto the apparel. This must help with encouraging tourism from China.
Even some foreign kids are getting in on it.
We like to complain about Chinese nationalism, but the Chinese flags at the Olympics were mostly stickers. The Italian flags are permanently on the clothes.
Now they just need to get “Italia” onto the famous manpurses and they can plaster the Middle Kingdom.
Frankie is a well-known magician from the Northeast. Here he is outside of the Central Academy of Drama (中央戏剧学院). He says he doesn’t care at all about fashion; his personality and trade are quite enough to give him a distinctive look. He can be hired to perform at parties and other events.
Chris is a Beijinger studying advertising in Chengdu; in fact his shirt is a beer advertisement. His jeans are from Cheap Monday and the sneaker/brogues are from Paul Smith, one of his favorite brands, though the chance that they are real is rather slim. Like many of the young men on Stylites, his style takes its cues from British rock musicians.
Noticeable from a distance for the drape of her gorgeous linen skirt, this young Qingdao girl is starting her own brand – she designed the skirt – focusing on linen and simple designs that will be available throughout Beijing very soon.
From Tokyo, slim Akira has been in Beijing for eight years and thoroughly loves the place. Having just succeeded Charles Saliba as General Manager, he is dedicated to building on the successes of D-22. His fashion heroes are glam-rocker Mick Ronson, Iggy Pop and Ziggy Stardust (Bowie) and his favorite film is a Clockwork Orange. He recommends that hip Beijingers buy their rags at Underground Kids on Gulou Dongdajie.
Sabrina, not the first from Ogilvy to appear on Stylites, says hers is Beijing’s most stylish PR company, due to the influence of its advertising division. She purchased her bag to show support for efforts of the Red Cross in Sichuan. She is believes the Olympics is allowing foreigners to see that China is not as backward and uncool as they might have thought. PR people are generally fearing the end of the Olympics since this has been a very busy time for them.
The French Olympics site has more details on the wonderful team outfits worn at the opening ceremony. To answer some earlier questions that appeared here, the men’s ties are knit and the women’s berets are made from cotton. The sashes and handbags are real leather. The outfits are produced by a company called Elis, though we are not sure who designed them.
What I like is that the look is quintessentially French but also very chic. Most citizenries find it difficult looking both up-to-date and traditional. Despite all the praise in the media for the English team uniforms – they were very hip – they could have done better at looking English, considering the rich sartorial traditions of the island. The Americans looked good and very American, but not exactly fashionable. There was too much of a schoolboy or airline attendant vibe.
Gao Jian grew up in a Hutong nearby Gulou and graduated from the Central Academy of Drama and Theater on Nanluoguxiang. He is in modern dance and his main theory for dressing is to wear clothing that is loose and comfortable. I’m not a lover of crocs, but they seem to be appropriate for him. Despite rumors, the New Zealand team didn’t end up wearing them during the opening ceremony.
It was truly dazzling. I’m a bit too tired to comment in depth, but the French, Portugese and Swedish team uniforms impressed me the most – at least in terms of Western style clothing. There were several great traditional get-ups from African countries. The Chinese men’s outfits were ghastly (popped, oversize collars – ’70s style but in even worse colors), but after such a beautiful and brilliant show, the host had to make at least one mis-step to reassure the world that it is not infallible. The US uniform was good and classic American in style. Unfortunately part of being American in style means a huge logo, which was present in the form of the over-sized Ralph Lauren polo player on the chest of the blazers. Anyway the repp ties and white caps were quite nice.
It’s probably very predictable of me to like the French outfits the most (of the Western attire). Most countries just wore their nation’s colors in the most garish way possible, clearly showing that they have no distinct style voice. The courts are still out on the British outifts. For the country that has had the biggest impact on defining Western standards of dress, the clothese didn’t seem distinctly English enough, but they were kind of cool and Cool Britannia is what it’s all about these days.
Though quite simple, this color combination is not common and has an elegant effect. Jia Jiajia is a travel agent born in Beijing. She now lives around Wudaokou though she prefers the Gulou area for shopping. While acknowledging that the Olympics are a source of pride, she bemoans the loss of much of Beijing’s original character to make way for modern construction projects, mainly malls and high-rises.
Co-creative director of Le Divan, Australian designer Tony Hua thinks most Beijing men wear oversized clothing and ensembles that don’t match in color or proportion. He recommends that men choose a style and stick with it rather than trying to mix and match too much. Most local men would benefit from wearing basic colors like black and white and steering clear of patterns, logos, and advice-giving girlfriends, whose tastes are often highly suspect. Le Divan’s shop will be opening soon at Soho Shangdu.
The August issue of The Beijinger is out. For this Olympics issue, my Trouser Press column makes recommendations for attire to be worn while attending events and parties. Since you can see the final version of Trouser Press in the magazine, I decided to put the first version I wrote here on Stylites. This earlier version contains several, admittedly puerile, political comments that were deemed unfit to appear in print at this time. So to see the finished version, please read The Beijinger.
Looking Good as a Spectator
The games are about competition, patriotism and respecting local culture. One cannot be overcautious in dressing, as every message will be scrutinized. Key times are games, parties, and brawls, sometimes all happening concurrently. The “to-die-for” piece is a lightweight chain mail vest, ostensibly celebrating the five rings, but really shielding those from countries that best the host in any event.
Main goals at all times remain safety and health. Toward these ends, clothing choices should offer protection from the heat and other spectators. For outdoor events, thin fabrics promote ventilation, while long sleeves stop sunburn. Denim is far too dense, while wearers of dark colors tend to bake in the sun. Though the air will be pristine, pure white should still be avoided as it is liable to be a victim of a neighbor’s Tsingtao. Sweat and catapulting saliva from other cheering enthusiasts are perennial perils for chic clothes at proletarian sporting events. Still, resist the temptation to wear tracksuits and team jerseys; you didn’t make the cut the first time.
Current indications are that much of the rabble will be exiled along with stray cats and lunatics, so it might be a cleaner affair than expected and a chance to dress-up. The average spectator won’t increase his medal count but he can trump other nationalities in elegance. Sartorial superiority is a refuge for those from countries with poor results; it won’t be hard to look better than citizens of the first, second or third ranking countries in the overall medal count.
Outfits geared toward parties make sense. For most sports fans, it will be night after night, raising glasses to celebrate or commiserate after hearing results. This is the time to wear a Stetson, straw hat, or a Panama. Spectators or suede bucks are perfect and linen, seersucker or even madras trousers will exhibit flare. An ascot is never wrong at a sporting event.
In the competitive climate of the bar or the stands, many might choose national dress or a look symbolizing support for their county’s team. A quirky approach is a patriotic tie. For example, citizens of the big stripy nation can opt for a star spangled banner tie from Vineyard Vines, available on their website (USD 75). Ties can also perform as nooses when things go badly for the homeland. Possibly more subtle approaches would be choosing national brands that design effective stylish sporty wear. This means Brits in Burberry, French in Lacoste, Americans in Ralph Lauren, Canadians in Dsquared, Japanese in Y3, and Italians in Dolce and Gabbana. Germans and Austrians can wear Lederhosen.
Dressing by color, it might be difficult to distinguish Americans, French, Russians, Brits, and others who could all safety go for blue trousers, a white shirt, and red shoes or hat. This would make them look marginally better than locals, struggling with red and yellow. Copying the style of a head of state is another way to back the national team. In this case, Moroccans and Afghans will be the dandies, North Koreans and Libyans the romancers, and Iranians will suffocate in the heat with their always-fastened collar button.
Laura is a freelance journalist from Taiwan who writes for a range of Mainland publications including Modern Weekly and Vogue. She covers luxury goods, jewelry and other fashion topics. She loves Beijing, staying here at least three to four months out of the year. Her favorite is the part of the city within the Second Ring Road.
D is the singer for D and the Hutong Cats. He was born on Shajin Hutong in the ‘80s but really should have been born in Nashville in the ‘50s. The style of his band and dress is decidedly rockability as he says himself. There was already a photo crew following him through the hutongs when I found him.
I love it when people appear on Stylites more than once -especially lovely young women like Kiki. Last time it was in winter. Always on the way to a rehearsel or show, Kiki, the lead singer of Milk and Coffee, returns in black, as usual, but her smile and the heart make the color warmer. Sometimes I feel that black looks a little bit uncomfortable on a hot day though. But what is the fluffy thing in her hand used for?